COVID-19 just won’t stop. As the world continues to battle the indefatigable virus, COVID-19 seems that it is just starting to warm up. New mutations are now on the rise and these are responsible for the continuous COVID-19 spike around the world. In the Philippines, there is a surge of delta variant cases. Consequently, the national government placed the borders of the country’s metropolitan area on lockdown. Indeed, new mutations such as the Delta Variant is not just a health concern, but also a threat today.
As the Technical Lead of the World Health Organization, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove explains that the Delta Variant is a Variant of Concern (VOC). It is because of the increased transmissibility. Thus, it spreads to more people efficiently compared to the Alpha variant.
As of July 2021, Delta Variant cases are shooting up in 96 countries. Dr. Kerkhove also reiterated the factors regarding the increasing Delta Variant cases around the world. First, the Variants of Concern (VOC) continuously mutate through time. Second, we have increasing social mixing and social mobility. As a result, there are more human interactions getting in the way. Third, most of us are lax when it comes to observing minimum health protocols such as social distancing and the wearing of face shields and masks. Lastly, we have an uneven distribution of vaccines due to lack of supply.
The Double Mutant on the rise
What’s different about Delta variant is it behaves differently than the other COVID-19 strains. According to Dr. Mike Hansen, Delta variants have produced more than twenty (20) mutations wherein its receptor-binding domain or spike protein has gotten tougher than before. Consequently, this is very alarming to know because it simply means that the COVID-19 virus has found its way to enter human cells more easily. Moreover, this variant can invade our immune system any time.
Hence, Delta variant cases are a result of the variant’s 60% higher transmissible rate. Its transmission can be compared to a chickenpox where it can infect 8 or 9 people on the average based on Center for Disease Control.
“A study in China found that the viral loads of people infected with Delta were 1,000 times higher than people infected at the beginning of the pandemic, and delta transmits in four days, compared to six days for the original strain. Three somewhat older studies from Canada, Singapore, and Scotland show that people infected with the Delta variant are more likely to end up in the hospital. “– Dr. Mike Hasen
Why is it called a Double Mutant?
According to the article from The Conversation, the Delta Variant is a double mutant for it possesses two significant mutations. Specifically, scientists believe that this double mutant helps double the number of genes. It allows a certain strain of the virus to transmit its genes.
Firstly, we have the the L452R mutation, which occurs in the Epsilon variant. Furthermore, this protein can increase its infectiousness by binding to human cells.
On the other hand, preliminary studies suggest that this mutation may help the virus evade the neutralizing antibodies generated by both vaccines and prior infections.
Secondly, is the T478K mutation. It is a novel SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that enables viral entry into lung cells.
The Delta variant is a good thing because it allows researchers to quickly track it. Also, it has a marker that the Alpha variant doesn’t have. Likewise, the S gene target can be seen in the PCR test results when detecting COVID-19. It can also be used to map the spread of Delta without requiring to sequence samples.
Delta Plus Variant
The Delta Plus variant is also carrying the K417N mutation. In India, the term delta plus has been used to describe the new strain of COVID-19 infections. Moreover, this variant can be considered a risk factor for COVID vaccines. There are concerns that it could be more transmissible.
“If you had previously in contact who has COVID-19, then you are in a substantial risk of getting infected. Especially, when you are not yet vaccinated. Hence, it is a much more serious game now. Delta Variant cases usually have severe symptoms. Subsequently, this is the reason why we need more people to get vaccinated. We need to build as much immunity as possible.” – Dr. Anne Rimoin, Epidemiology Professor in the University of California, Los Angeles
Summary of Delta Variant Cases, as of August 9, 2021
As of August 9, 13 of the 17 regions in the country have Delta Variant cases. These regions are Region 1,2,3, 4A, 5,6,7,8,9,10,11, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and National Capital Region (NCR).
Around 450 cases of the Delta variant have been detected in the Philippines, 355 are local cases while 69 are OFWs. A total of 26 are still being investigated. This is according to Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.
With the increasing Delta variant cases, the country is now on high-risk classification. For over two weeks, the Delta Variant cases have incurred a 47% growth rate.
In the National Capital Region, DOH specified the cities with high daily attack rates (DAR). These cities are Valenzuela, Quezon City, Manila, Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig, San Juan, Pasay, Las Piñas, and Taguig. Therefore, if you are living in one of these areas, then ensure that you know how to combat the increasing delta variant cases.
Combatting the Viral Surge
One way to combat the surge of Delta Variant Cases is keeping your home safe. A protected home is significant to having a healthy community.
Keeping your Home Safe
“Knowing your risk helps you to take your measures to lower your risk every single day.”– Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove
There are many things that you can do to keep yourself and loved ones protected. First, you need to make it a habit to keep your hands clean. Hence, handwashing is significantly important nowadays. Second, the old norm of wearing masks. However, not all wear their masks properly. The proper wearing of masks is making sure that your eyes and nose are covered. When removing or putting your face masks, make sure that your hands are clean. As much as you wanted to hang out, do avoid crowded places.
On the other hand, your home should also be safe. Make sure that your condo unit has good ventilation. You can have this by opening your window or balcony door so you can have good airflow.
Finally, when it is your turn, get that vaccine. Above all, make sure to get the full doses so never miss your second dose.